Caregiving for a person with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, roles in life. While most caregivers can precisely identify each of their loved one’s social, emotional, and physical requirements, many remain out of touch with their own mental and physical needs. Caregivers commonly put their own needs (and wants) on the back burner in order to stay in the trenches and hold the caregiving fort down.
The combination of taking on the many tasks and challenges of caregiving, while ignoring one’s health needs, is notorious for causing what is commonly referred to in the healthcare profession as “caregiver stress.”
Caregiver stress is known to increase the risk of various health disorders, including heart disease, cancer, depression, anxiety and may even increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Tuning into one’s own physical, emotional and spiritual health needs is a vital part of caregiving that often gets overlooked.
Here is a self-evaluation tool for caregivers. It’s advisable to keep it in a place that’s in plain view, and refer to it frequently.
Quick Self-Screening for caregiver Stress
- How are you sleeping?
- Do you wake up frequently during the night?
- How is your appetite/diet?
- Are you eating a brain healthy diet?
- How is your blood pressure? Have you checked it lately?
- Have you had your cholesterol checked recently?
- Is your cholesterol level normal?
- Have you had a physical exam recently?
- Is your vision good? When is the last time you had an eye exam?
- Do you have aches and pains? Any muscle aches or back pain?
- How is your overall mood? Are you sad, hopeless or apathetic?
- How is your energy level? Do you feel exhausted?
- Are you getting regular physical exercise?
- How is your social life?
- Do you take regular time off to enjoy life on a daily and weekly basis?
NOTE; Always consult your physician before starting any type of a new exercise regime.
Each question above that you answered with a “no” needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Even if you had all “yes” answers, it’s imperative to schedule regular health screenings with your physician. Don’t forget to schedule time off to relax and enjoy life on a regular basis.
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